Good beer, good food, good company. That seemed to be the theme for this year’s Cheshire Beer
Festival, hosted for the second year running in the Racecourse. They had secured more space for seating and eating, and for good reason! This year they had a whopping 120 beers on for the patrons drinking pleasure, and we heard they had increased the amount of ciders as well.
We attended the Saturday afternoon session, and despite the horrible weather made our way to the venue at bang on noon. We calculated that we only had 5 hours to go through as many beers as possible and time was of the essence on this excursion.
The festival seemed a little better organised than last year, which can probably be put down to experience: last year was their first venture to new premises and there were bound to be some teething problems. Granted, we felt a little hard done by for having to queue to get inside in the miserable rain, but once inside, it was a smooth operation from one point to another.
To your left was the eating area with fairly traditional beer festival grub on offer; burgers, curries, the likes. To your right was the bar area, where the beers were in alphabetical order to ensure they were easy to find. If you wanted to sit down, you headed upstairs, were there were tables and sofas. All pretty straight forward.
Oh, there was a CAMRA recruiting station underneath the stairs which led you to the seating area. Our Kat finally bit the bullet, and as the newest recruit to the fold of CAMRA folk, she intends to make waves. You have all been warned.
The beer selection this year was impressive, and not just because of the sheer amount of it. There were new breweries we’d never heard of, some collaborations we were dying to try and still room for old classics, like Plum Porter, which has for one reason or another become our traditional festival beer.
But this time, we had no time for something we’ve had before. Unexplored beers were calling our name and after much deliberation on which ones to try, here is what we had:
Deva Craft Beer & Rat Brewery Collaboration: eRATication 5,8%
Malts take a backseat on this hop monster – a strong nose with an almost overwhelming bitterness which hits you immediately as you sip. An interesting brew to say the least!
Axiom Brewing Co: Conclusion 4.6%
A bittersweet concoction, with autumnal dried fruits, plums, raisins, and a strong malty backbone. Delicious.
Salopian: Velocity 5.3%
Tom named this his favourite beer of the festival, and it’s easy to see why. The tipple has a case of underlying bitterness, but it is very well balanced with the sweetness from the exotic fruits and citric qualities of the hops.
McGivern: Hopping Mad 4.5%
What we have come to expect from McGivern beers; a well balanced, allround great tipple. It doesn’t jump out at you but neither does it leave you wanting.
Hafod: Big Red 5.5%
Beautifully balanced. This tipple rocks the bitterness of the hops and almost tutti frutti like aftertaste, but it all works together so seamlessly it’s an absolute delight to sup.
Geeves: Smokey Joe 5%
Kat is a sucker for anything smoked, so it’s not a big surprise she loved this one. The beer has notes of black coffee, dark chocolate and a lingering smokiness with a spicy, oaky finish.
Hardknott: Colonial Mischief 4%
Your usual suspect for a brown ale: Light sweetness of toffee malts with a bitter finish. Nothing to write home about but could probably have it again if the situation called for it.
All in all we really enjoyed the festival. It was a family-friendly environment with lots of little future beer geeks toddling around, everyone was merry and the music was amazing. Looking forward for next year and maybe even more beers this time!